NEW YORK - A new report by the Civilian Complaint Review Board (CCRB) says the cameras worn by officers are helping to resolve a greater number of complaints alleging police misconduct.
When videos are available, the CCRB says it substantiates complaints in 31 percent of its full investigations. That compares with a rate of 13 percent without video.
The videos also increase the exoneration rate of officers to 30 percent of investigations compared to 20 percent without them.
But the watchdog agency says that when it seeks the videos, the NYPD honors only half of its requests for video. It's also taking longer to turn the recordings over. And that's not all, The CCRB says 43 percent of the videos it does receive have had a portion of the recording blacked out.
Jon Shane is an associate professor at John Jay College of Criminal Justice and understands why video may be redacted.
"There may be some sensitive information on there that can't come out just at the moment that might compromise the investigation,” Professor Shane said. “Overall, I think the CCRB should have unredacted videos at some point during their entire investigation so they can make a proper determination."
The NYPD has said it sometimes redacts video to protect the identities of people including abuse victims and minors.
CCRB investigators say one of the largest issues is officers turning cameras on late, turning them off early, or not turning them on at all.
Professor Shane worked for 20 years for the Newark, New Jersey Police Department. He said he would want his camera rolling.
"I don't think most police officers operate out of the bounds of law. So having a camera is going to certainly corroborate their version of the events."
But the CCRB says it is concerned because it found officers using verbal or body gestures to signal to other cops that their cameras were recording which could be an effort to cover up wrongdoing.
The agency's investigators said they often hear cops on the video saying, "I went Hollywood" or "I'm hot."
Responding to the report, the NYPD said officers aren't doing anything wrong by letting fellow cops and civilians know they are recording a situation. The department says it could help deescalate confrontations.
With every patrol officer now wearing the cameras, the NYPD says 130,000 videos are created a week.
Last November, the NYPD and the CCRB signed a memorandum of understanding to streamline the sharing of the body camera footage. Police say the agreement is an effort to increase transparency and accountability.